Cranial Insertion: The Morning Sun has Vanquished the Horrible Night!

Cranial Insertion
The Morning Sun has Vanquished the Horrible Night
By Eli Shiffrin, Brian Paskoff, and Carsten Haese

I have to admit I feel a little left out not offering advice on picking up women. If you want my advice on picking up women, I say you should first pick Olivia Voldaren if you see her in your pack during an Innistrad draft. But this is a rules article, and that sounds like strategy talk to me. Anyway, as scary as dating advice columns on Magic websites are, we're here to talk about the frightening world of Innistrad and all the rules questions that have made your skin crawl!

Innistrad had some record prerelease turnouts, and with more players - and a complex set mechanically - comes loads of new rules questions. We had our hands full at the prerelease, not to mention afterwards when we came home to dozens of questions flooding our inbox. We've got enough questions just on double-faced cards (DFCs) alone to fill at least an entire article, but you're not asking just about those: Innistrad is as rules-question-filled as it is creepy, so let's get to answering some of your questions!

And keep sending more in to [email][/email] or Tweet them to @CranialTweet, there's no such thing as too many questions!

What a horrible night to have a curse.

Q: When I transform Garruk Relentless into Garruk, the Veil-Cursed, can I use one of his loyalty abilities if I already made a Wolf token with the other side?

A: You'll need to wait until next turn to do anything with the cursed Garruk. Even though he's got a new name and looks a little worse for the wear, he's still the same permanent and you can only activate a loyalty ability of a permanent once per turn.

Q: How does Inquisitor's Flail interact with trample? If I attack with a 3/3 equipped with the Flail and my opponent blocks with a 3/2, how much damage will I get to assign to my opponent?

A: You'll only get to assign 1, though he'll end up taking 2. When assigning combat damage, you don't take into account any abilities any of the creatures involved may have that modify damage. Lethal damage to the blocker is 2, so you can assign 2 there and the remaining 1 to your opponent. When the damage is actually dealt though, it'll be doubled: the creature will take 4, your creature will take 6, and your opponent will take 2.

Q: Can Skaab Ruinator exile itself to pay for its cost, meaning I only need to have three creatures (it included) in my yard to cast it?

A: Not at all! The first step in casting a spell is to take it from whatever zone it's in and put it onto the stack. If the Skaab is on the stack, it's not in your graveyard when it comes time to pay the cost of exiling three creature cards.

Q: Can I cast a Myr Superion for free with Heartless Summoning?

A: You can only spend mana produced by creatures to cast Myr Superion, but you're not spending any mana at all! It's a little weaker, but who's going to complain about a free 4/5? (Besides Tarmogoyf looking at it jealously.)

Q: With two Heartless Summonings and a Corpse Cur, can I cast Corpse Cur and return it to my hand indefinitely?

A: Thanks to state-based actions, you can do this as many times as you want. Corpse Cur will enter the battlefield, and its ability will trigger. Before it actually goes onto the stack though, state-based actions cause it to be put into its owner's graveyard because the Cur has 0 toughness. Then its ability goes onto the stack, and you can pick a target, which just so happens to be that very same Corpse Cur! Combine this with anything that cares about a creature entering the battlefield or dying and you can do some arbitrarily large amounts of shennanigans.

Die monster! You don't belong in this world!
Q: Can I cast a Slayer of the Wicked if there are no Vampires, Werewolves, or Zombies for it to kill?

A: Creature spells don't target, even though their enters-the-battlefield abilities might. If there's no baddies for your Slayer to kill when it jumps onto the battlefield, its ability will just fall off the stack and he'll just be disappointed he doesn't have any work to do.

Q: I read from Wizards that anytime a double-faced card enters the battlefield, its day side is up. How does this work however, with Doubling Chant?
If I have three Werewolves who are night-side-up and cast Doubling Chant, do I look for the day or night versions of the card?

A: While a DFC is on the battlefield, the only side that matters is the one that's currently face-up. So an Ironfang on the battlefield's name is Ironfang, not Village Ironsmith. You won't be able to find any night-side-up creatures in your library, because only the day side exists in any zone other than the battlefield.

Q: If I have more than one copy of Gutter Grime on the field, which pile of slime counters do my Oozes look to for their size? Do the Oozes have to keep track of which Grime spawned them? Or do they get to be as big as all the slime counters put together?

A: Having two Gutter Grimes on the field will get you a lot of tokens - whenever a nontoken creature you control dies, each Gutter Grime will trigger. Then as each trigger resolves, you'll put a slime counter on that Gutter Grime, then put a token onto the battlefield with power and toughness equal to the number of slime counters on that Gutter Grime. Then you'll do the same for the other Gutter Grime! The result is that you'll have two sets of tokens, each set having their power and toughnesses represented by a different Gutter Grime.

Q: I read somewhere that if Gutter Grime leaves the battlefield, then all its tokens become 0/0s. Why wouldn't the tokens use last known information?

A: Last known information is only used by resolving spells or abilities that need to know something about an object that's no longer where it expects it. Static abilities like the one that determines the tokens's power and toughness never use last known information, so all those Oozes will go splat once their Gutter Grime no longer exists.

Q: With an Essence of the Wild out, what happens when I play an Akroma, Angel of Fury face-down as a morph?

A: You get a face-down critter of some kind! What it is under there won't be much of a mystery, as your opponent knows that underneath its morphy, no-name, no-creature type shell is an Essence of the Wild. As a face-down creature, it's just a 2/2 with nothing special about it. That's the rules for any face-down creature (not to be confused with night-side-up creatures!). If you manage to turn the morph face-up, you'll find it looks exactly like Essence of the Wild. But since it doesn't have a morph cost to reveal and pay, you'll need to find alternative ways to do that.

Q: When Essence of the Wild leaves the battlefield, does everything else that became a copy of it stop being a copy of it?

A: Which Essence of the Wild? Chances are, you have a bunch of them! Only when all Essence of the Wilds have left the battlefield will you control no Essence of the Wilds, and then you're free to cast creatures as they really are. Even if the original Essence leaves your control, the others will remain copies of it forever.

Q: If I put a Paradise Mantle on my Essence of the Wild, will I get a bunch of 6/6 Birds of Paradise?

A: Turning a Birds of Paradise into a self-replicating 6/6 is what Essence of the Wild does, but you can't make your copies tap for mana this way. Though the equipment is giving Essence an activated ability, it's not a copiable characteristic because it's not printed on the card nor granted by another copy effect.

Q: What's the converted mana cost of a Cackling Counterpart token?

A: That depends on what it copied! Normally you see tokens that have a converted mana cost of 0, because they're just tokens created by a spell or ability. But an object's mana cost is a copiable characteristic, so it'll have the same converted mana cost of whatever it's copying.

Q: If I shuffle in a DFC night-side-up, what happens when I draw it?

A: Whoops! I have to say, this even happened to me at the prerelease. It's an easy mistake to make when you're not using checklist cards! You can turn it around in your hand, but then you'll be giving your opponent information (which you're free to reveal, of course). Or you can wait until you cast it, and then flip it around... which means you'll need to know its mana cost. You can always peek at a checklist card or ask a judge for the Oracle text in that case!

Q: How does the new keyword "fight" work with first strike, or even double strike?

A: Not too well! Fighting doesn't follow the same rules as attacking and blocking: there's no steps involved, and there's no combat damage. It's just two creatures having a bare-knuckle brawl based on their current power, and all the damage is dealt at once regardless of abilities.

Q: When a creature transforms, can it attack that turn?

A: That depends! Before it transformed, could it attack that turn? If the answer is yes, then it still can! A permanent that transforms is still the same permanent. It never left the battlefield, even though you might be picking it up off the battlefield to turn it over, so it can tap and attack just fine if it wasn't "summoning sick" before.

Q: So how does Ixidron work with DFCs?

A: It counts as a spell, so Werewolves won't transform next turn. It also can block them at some point if they do manage to transform at some point. But its enters-the-battlefield ability will just ignore them, because DFCs can't be turned face down. Not even a little bit!

What is a man?
A miserable little pile of secrets!
Q: I've got a Delver of Secrets, but my opponent has cursed me with a Curse of the Bloody Tome. During my upkeep, which of those will trigger first?

A: You control Delver of Secrets's trigger, and your opponent controls the Curse's trigger. When there's two triggered abilities trying to trigger at the same time, they go on the stack in Active Player/Non-Active Player order. That means Delver's goes on the stack first, and the Curse's on top of it, so you'll mill two cards and then see if the experiment takes a shocking turn.

Q: If I enchant an Unbreathing Horde with an enchantment that gives it a static +1/+1, can it survive all damage dealt to it?

A: When Unbreathing Horde is dealt damage, you prevent that damage and remove a counter from it. These two things are completely separate from each other despite being part of the same ability, so even if one thing doesn't happen, the other will. If you can't remove a counter, the damage is still prevented. Normally no counters means the Horde is a 0/0 and continues to not breathe in its owner's graveyard, but if there's something boosting its toughness it'll keep shambling around.

Q: So I have Laboratory Maniac on my side of the field in play, I have 5 cards left in my library. Is it legal to dredge a Golgari Grave-Troll, and if I do, will I win the game?

A: Dredging is a good way to empty your library, but you won't be able to completely empty it if you don't have the right number of cards in it. Dredge only works if you have N cards in your library, where N is the number in the dredge ability on that card. You can't even attempt to dredge unless you have that many cards in your library!

Q: I cast Nevermore and name Howlpack Alpha, because I lost to it last game. A little while later I realize that's pointless - you can't even cast Howlpack Alpha! Am I in trouble if my opponent tries to cast Mayor of Avabruck?

A: He's the one in trouble if he tries to cast a spell he's not allowed to! Official tournament policy (not the comprehensive rules, you won't find this there) on these DFCs if that naming the reverse side of a DFC is sufficient to identify it. Since there's literally nothing Nevermore can do to Howlpack Alpha (the only thing it stops is casting, and Howlpack Alpha is the name of a card that can't be cast), naming either side of the DFC will ban that card from being cast.

Q: If my opponent enchants my creature with a Bonds of Faith, and on my next turn I equip the creature with Mask of Avacyn, will the Bonds of Faith fall off?

A: The Aura will stay on. Aura spells only target as they're being cast, so all hexproof or shroud will do is stop your creature from being the target of further Aura spells. What will make the Aura fall off is if your creature gets protection from a certain quality that the Aura shares. Creatures with protection from white, for example, can't be enchanted with a white Aura like Bonds of Faith, so state-based actions will kick the illegal enchantment off your creature.

Q: If I gain control of an opponent's Olivia Voldaren with a Traitorous Blood, then use her 3BB ability on herself, do I gain control of her indefinitely because of a loophole, or did I just create a stupid tautology ?

A: It's no loophole, just layers! The control layer to be exact - and unlike Traitorous Blood, this one's duration doesn't end at the end of the turn. Since it doesn't, you'll keep control of Olivia for as long as you control Olivia (strange!), even after Traitorous Blood's effect ends, and can start stealing Vampires!

Oh and in case you're baffled at the weird captions, they're a reference to the horror-themed video game series Castlevania that turned 25 years old last week! I'm just upset there's no whip card in the set... maybe in Dark Ascension!


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